When's the last time you discussed the social networking site MySpace with friends? And, when it came up,
was it discussed in a positive light or as a passé online destination that lost its mojo many moons ago? For me, the answers are: probably six months ago and it's kind of a joke representing any company that lost its relevance.
Here's an interesting article in AdWeek (MySpace: Still Here) that surprisingly portrays this once dominant entity as still strangely relevant. In fact, MySpace actually attracts 61 million unique users per month, second only to Facebook (which still dwarfs any other networking site with 146 million users).
According to this article, MySpace has assumed a much more focused role as a sharing site versus its larger nemesis which really has become the ultimate communications platform. To capitalize on its positioning, MySpace has developed numerous programs around music and has built a following of over 5 million bands on the network. It has leveraged sponsorships with the likes of Wendy’s to build brand awareness for MySpace "Music's Get Close Program," a competition that gives fans the chance to see the net's featured musicians perform live.
It's interesting to see how this once proud leader is making a valid push to revive its relevance among young people. Still, I wonder if these efforts fall under the heading: Too Little, Too Late.
While clearly the site has many fans, MySpace lost its cool factor (and more importantly) its buzz three years ago. I spent 15 minutes conducting my own informal, non-scientific research (I asked half a dozen teens and 20-somethings their perceptions of MySpace). The answers were uniformly consistent – “not interested and my friends aren't either.” That told me a lot.
As superficial as it sounds, buzz is critical for digital survival as well. It brings advertisers in and it creates the perception of success, which ultimately breeds more (real success), if managed correctly.
These days, Twitter and Facebook are the clear kings on the mountain. New entrants such as FourSquare are also creating real buzz and excitement. Of course, there will always be one or two other new players who challenge their buzz supremacy by offering the newest and latest cool networking or communications tool, as well. Understanding all of this, my belief is that it's next to impossible for forgotten brands (such as MySpace) to stage any type of real comeback, regardless of what unique offering they develop or how they reposition their value proposition.
A great example of this is Yahoo. Yahoo was the pioneer and dominant force in internet search for a good long time. Then, it was googled by Google and life was never the same. While it has found some relevance in the online advertising arena, it lost any real search relevance forever because Google consistently out maneuvered it.
Regardless of what AdWeek writes, MySpace has fallen into the digital relic category. It may still attract a unique audience, but there's a big difference between being a compelling Internet player that so many are buzzing about versus just being there, while no one really cares.